The Doctor Who Audio Dramas
The Price of Paradise



A Review by David Strbavy 31/5/00

Fan Groups are notorious for producing their own Doctor Who adventures. In most cases, there is more enthusiasm than quality. In this case, however, it is the exception to the rule. I had been surfing the Internet when I stumbled upon a web site devoted to Doctor Who Audio Dramas. It included a list of available stories which had some interesting story lines. Costing only blank tapes and return postage, I decided to give them a try. Now my only question is when can I get together more tapes so I can get more of their stores.

The current audio version of the Doctor is described as in his forties (in appearance), about six feet tall, black hair beginning to grey. He seems to be going through a second childhood and is easily distracted. He wears a magician's outfit (although his enthusiasm for magic is not matched by any real talent -- unlike the Pertwee Doctor!).

The Doctor is accompanied by two companions. The first one is Mark Triyad, a Commander in Starfleet. (Yes, sort of a Star Trek universe crossover, but the Enterprise is thankfully absent from the stories.) He is a veteran of many a battle in the ongoing Zylon war. A brilliant tactical man, but short on the diplomatic graces. (Picture the Brigadier wearing a Star Cruiser uniform, and you begin to get the picture.)

The second companion is Dara Hamilton, a nineteen year old college student described as "spunky, who rushes in where angels fear to tread." She apparently talks a good game, but is not nearly as brave as she thinks.

All well and good, but what about the stories? Well, let me give you an example.

The Price of Paradise, a four episode story, is a prime example of the quality of the product.

The story itself reminded me of a cross of The Marca Terror and Paradise Towers. Both were set in utopian surroundings (well, they were supposed to be utopian). Both had a dark secret. Both had to be stopped.

What I enjoyed most of the story was the underlying moodiness. At one point, people were cheerfully waiting to be "erased" (a nice term for being killed), simply because they were ordered to do so. Rather typical of the Whovian utopias, but nonetheless believable.

Not surprising, giver her personality profile and her function as a companion, Dara gets caught up in the tangled web of the system. Needless to say, she doesn't quite fit in (the last thing any paradise needs is someone who is an individual and can think for themselves). Barely escaping erasure, she aligns herself with the resistance (there's always some malcontents, no matter where you go).

Also not surprising, the Doctor is mistaken for an authority figure (there is something about him that does that, no matter where he goes!). What was surprising is that he is found out, and rather quickly at that. He is sent for "reeducation", and the exchange between him and his captors is rather amusing. It goes without saying that the Doctor manages to put things to right, but there are enough surprises in this story to make it worth a listen.

Well written scripts. Credible acting. So what is there not to like? Well, there is one thing that bothers me. Like a lot of amateur productions, there have to rely on existing music/sound effects. Normally this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, they are quite obvious in where they are getting their material. For instance, there is a number of instances where the opening music from the original Star Trek series (you know, the one where you normally see the Enterprise swooping past). The one regeneration scene I experience was simply the Logopolis regeneration scene. A little more subtlety would be in order.

However that is simply a case of me trying very hard to find something to criticize. As I said before, I have got five stories, and plan to order a few more.

How long will this last? I don't know. As long as the stories are there and the enthusiasm remains, we will have some fans producing audio adventures. I hope these particular fans are enthusiastic for a long time to come.

A Review by Charles Danbee 31/5/00

One of the best Doctor Who stories in a long time, The Price of Paradise is a shining example of good science fiction with a strong foundation to it. There may have been other "worlds run by computer" stories before, but the sheer loss of humanity presented in Paradise makes one pause to think. Some frightening parallels can be found in this story and what many people are saying is happening to society today. Sheri Devine really gets to shine as Dara in this story. The Doctor, pretty much being regulated to the background for most of the story, allows Dara to have all the fun bits. We also get to see Dara as more than just fluff, being able to hold her own quite well as both a rebel leader and when persuading Hesson of his own humanity. (8/10)